Roasted Salmon with Pesto Crust and Napoleon of Wilted Spinach and Oven-dried Tomatoes with Red Onion-Cilantro Relish
There are several elements to this dish, and any one of them can be used separately. The pesto crust seals in the salmon juices and is a wonderul counterpoint for the rich fish. The technique of searing meat or fish on top of the stove at high heat, then finishing the cooking in the oven, lets you cook it completely without overcooking the crust.
- Oven-dried Tomatoes
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Beefsteak tomatoes - 4
- Coriander - 1 teaspoon
- Thyme - 1 teaspoon
- Freshly ground black pepper - 1 teaspoon
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Chick Pea Flour - 1/2 cup
- Chicken Stock - 2 cups
- Cumin - 1/2 teaspoon
- Oregano - 1/2 teaspoon
- Red Onion-Cilantro Relish
- Virgin olive oil - 3/4 teaspoon
- Red Onions - 3 large, diced
- Ginger - 1 teaspoon, minced
- Garlic Clove - 1, minced
- Lemon Juice - 1/2 cup, freshly squeezed
- Thai Chili Paste - 2 teaspoons (alt.other red chili-garlic paste)
- Capers - 2 teaspoons
- Cilantro - 2 teaspoons, chopped
- Parsley Leaves - 2, chopped
- Scallion - 1, thinly sliced
- Pesto Crust
- Basil leaves - 1-1/2 - 2 cups, stemmed and chopped
- White Breadcrumbs - 1 cup
- Pine nuts - 1/2 cup
- Parmesan cheese - 1/2 cup, freshly grated
- Garlic Cloves - 2 large, chopped
- Bacon Bits - 1/2 cup, crisp
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Salmon fillets - eight, 7-ounce
- Olive oil - 2 tablespoons
- Spinach - 3 pounds, blanched
- Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
- Shallot - 1, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- o finish the panisse
- Bread Crumbs - 2 tablespoons
- Corn Meal - 2 tablespoons
- Thyme - 1 tablespoon
- Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
To prepare the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush it with olive oil. Cut the tomatoes crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place them in a single layer on the prepared sheet. Combine the coriander, thyme, pepper, and salt in a bowl. Brush the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Bake 2 - 3 hours, until dried. Slices may be stored on paper towels.
To make the panisse: Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil. Combine the ingredients in a medium pan over medium-high heat and cook until a thick paste forms, stirring constantly. Spread about 3/4-inch thick on the prepared pan and let cool to room temperature; cover with waxed paper and chill until firm.
To make the relish: Put the olive oil in a medium skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat and add the onions. Cook just until slightly softened, 1 minute, then add the ginger and garlic and toss. Cook 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the remaining ingredients and pour the relish out onto a sheet pan to cool to room temperature. The color should be bright red.
To make the crust: Combine all ingredients except the olive oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor. With the processor running, slowly pour in the oil and process until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
To prepare the salmon: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spread the pesto crust 1/8-inch thick on the salmon fillets. In a dry nonstick ovenproof saute pan or skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil and sear the salmon, crust-side down. Turn the fillets over and place in the oven for 5 - 6 minutes, until cooked through.
Spread the blanched spinach leaves on a towel and roll up; squeeze to press out the juice. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan or skillet and toss the shallot until soft, about 1 minute. Add the spinach leaves, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat.
To finish the panisse: Cut the cold panisse into 1-inch-by-2-inch strips. Combine the bread crumbs, corn meal, and thyme. Roll the panisse strips in the herb mixture. Heat the olive oil in a skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat and saute the strips until golden, 1 - 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
To serve: Cover one half of each plate with relish. Place a salmon fillet over the relish. Stack 4 pieces of panisse on each plate, criss-crossing them. In the remaining space on the plates, alternate spinach and tomatoes to make three layers of each, starting with spinach and ending with a tomato slice.